At the Abyss Ep 124

Drums of Autumn

Chapters 16-17

Week 10

“At the Abyss”

Listen to the podcast!

Summary: Jamie surveys the land. Claire follows behind. They hike for miles until Jamie finds a suitable spot. Wild strawberries fill their bellies. They christen the land. Claire speaks her fears. Jamie’s confused then hears her heart. They are each the half to their whole. Their love is the first law of thermodynamics. A decision is made. Brianna joins Roger for Christmas. He’s about to lose his home forever. She soon will too. Brianna is conflicted. The past is a frightening place to search. Everyone needs a history. The fire burns between Roger and Brianna. He wants it all from her. He has a plan.  So does Brianna.

Inside the Chapters:

Chapter 16: The First Law of Thermodynamics

Claire wakes to a large grey jay pulling hairs from her head presumably to make a nest. As a point of reference, gray jays are not found in the southern US. They are largely found in the northwest US and western Canada due to their like of spruce trees. Claire finds this apropos since she thinks her hair looks like a bird’s nest when she wakes. Except for some soreness, she is unharmed by the pulled hairs. The Indians are gone, as is the bear’s head. She looks upon sleeping Jamie, and he seems like Adam, though a rather battered Adam well after the Fall (p308, Nook). She combs meditatively through her hair. There’s no place to be, no one to care for; it’s slow. Simply time and the nature surrounding her. There lacks confinement in this place of wild. She thinks it odd she felt at home in the hospital, and she is ls at home here in nature. Her duality. The hospital was a place of control and regimented precision. A place solely for her to practice healing.  Nature takes its path, but it is a place of life incarnate, a place she draws her healing from and through it. She finds herself chilled, nipples standing at attention. She is naked but hadn’t taken her clothes off before retiring. She’d encountered Jamie in the night, like a dream event (p309, Nook).  The post-battle arousal had hit Jamie. Claire took the brunt of it and had enjoyed it from what she remembers. (7:20)

The Indians left a portion of bear meat for their later use. They eat breakfast and quickly bathe in the creek before planning their travel direction for the day. Jamie points out the treaty line in the mountainscape ahead of them. Before leaving Wilmington, Jamie made certain he knew which lands were available for settling. He also confirmed his information with the Tuscarora they had met and dined with the night before. Together they ride. Jamie is shirtless with his torn shirt drying behind him on his saddle. Claire notices the scratches are not inflamed nor causing him any problems. He seems less troubled, lighter in the mood than when they started the journey. Their encounter with the Tuscarora hunters had been civil and comforting. One piece of the unknown has become a known entity. She thinks the trees and landscape play a part in his mood change. This is his place, unlike the coastal plain of River Run. When the forest becomes too dense to ride, they hobble the horses and climb on foot. This is untouched land (p311, Nook). They reach a ridge, Jamie walks with ease, she follows behind gathering interesting plants along the way. She doesn’t know what he wants in the land to settle upon. They walk, turn back when they cannot go further, and find a way down. The description is enthralling. I want to hike here. It’s seductive in texture, sound, and color. Claire calls it enchanting (p312, Nook). (11:05)

She catches a glimpse of white streak above one of Jamie’s temple. It brings her back to the cave, Abandawe where he was shot by Geillis. It’s a place she cannot forget. They continue to climb. She’s overwhelmed by the beauty (p313, Nook). When they stop for a rest by a spring, she finds wild strawberries. She gathers handfuls into her cloak. The strawberry juice stains went together with pine pitch, soot, leaf smudges, and dirt. She gorges herself on the tart berries. Jamie asks if she likes this place (p314, Nook). He’s thinking of taking the Governor’s offer. He thinks the strawberries are a sign this is the place they are to settle (p314, Nook).  The Frasers were also farmers. Culloden killed the clans. Any survivors fragmented. Jamie stood tall, warrior and farmer both (p315, Nook). He explains how strawberries are a rare plant (p315, Nook). Though I cannot find the definition Jamie gives, there are several ways the strawberry is considered important religiously and otherwise. Lastly, the fruit is shaped like a heart. Claire tears up. He wipes it away then drops his plaid and breeks. They are alone. They had been under threat the past days; now together, they are alone without the need to hold the wilderness away. Jamie claims this is the old way to give fertility to the fields. Claire sees no fields, yet, but she strips down to her nakedness too. They managed the fertility rites, blessing the land in his joy. (19:15)

Claire sees Jamie clearly for who he is. It terrifies her. She tries to keep it to herself, but he hears her thoughts as if she has spoken them aloud (p317, Nook). She must tell him the truth of her fear. Clinging to him, she speaks. He reminds her of his promise (p317, Nook). Her fear is he’ll die. She’s uncertain if she can survive without him again. He makes a joke. She hits him angrily. He doesn’t understand what she’s on about (p318, Nook). She stomps away. She steps on cockleburs. Limping carefully back to her clothing, she dresses. She fusses about, making nonsensical comments. Finally, she speaks up (p320, Nook). He understands her worry about him going to Scotland, but not why she thinks he’ll be going there. She’s exasperated explains that where he’ll get the settlers for the land. He returns the exasperation. He has no money to travel, the gems are gone, and the money he does have is borrowed (p320, Nook). He thinks of her words. He walks. He has a solution for the settlers he needs. The men he was in prison with were transported to the Colonies. Claire thinks if he can find them they won’t want to pick up and follow him. He reminds her she did this very thing. Claire relaxes, her fear easing, then she thinks of the huge task of tracking the men down. She asks after Aunt Jocasta’s offer. He explains why his answer is no (p321, Nook). She needs to know he won’t die and leave her (p321, Nook). “We are neither of us whole, alone. Do ye not know that Sassenach?” This line is why I believe this is a book about them as a couple more than the ultimate telling of his story, even though they end up in his time and we learn more about his history than hers. After she left him at Culloden, he was dead. She was in the future 200 years. Claire remembers the vast despairing pit she had to climb from after her return to the 20th century. They loved each other even while dead to the other during their separation (p322, Nook). This is the love I think we all strive for. This is unending devotion of the heart and spirit. Take a moment to breathe in the beauty of those words. People wonder why Outlander readers hold the books and characters so dear. If the naysayers would only read them, they would know we are not crazy. We are merely in love. “Nothing is lost, Sassenach; only changed.” “That’s the first law of thermodynamics.” “No, that’s faith.” (26:40)

Part Six: Je T’aime

Chapter 17: Home for the Holidays

Inverness, Scotland, December 23, 1969

Roger frets while waiting for Brianna to arrive. He wished Mrs. Graham and the Reverend could be here. He thinks of their advice when he thought he was in love as a teenager (p324, Nook).

December 24, 1969

Fiona is there giving him last minute reminders of the meal she prepared. She asks if he’s sure they don’t want to come along to Ernie’s mother’s house. Roger assures her they’ll be fine and to enjoy their holiday. She turns and kisses Roger right on the lips. Then wishes him a Happy Christmas before leaving with Ernie. Somehow Brianna and Roger make lunch without blowing up the manse. The house is nearly cleared out. Roger is relieved. There is a stack of books on the table. They’re Frank Randall’s books. All autographed. She takes the books and places them in a box for herself. Roger is going to miss the place. He grew up here. The church owns the manse. His dad lived there for more than fifty years. The new minister has his own home, so Ernie and Fiona are going to live there after the wedding. Brianna is concerned Roger’s home will be gone. Brianna is in a similar situation. She plans on putting her parent’s house on the market in the summer. Roger clues into her emotions surrounding packing up and losing her house for good. The house is too big for her to keep. He suggests she might get married. Maybe she thinks she’d live in the manse with him. There’s something for frankness. He blurts out asking if she wants children. She does. He does too. He wants to practice making babies with her just now. They kiss (p329, Nook). The nosy postman breaks the moment. It’s a letter for Brianna. The postman is snooping instead of putting the letter in the slot. He meddlingly wants to know if they’re alone. Well, a fictitious Uncle Angus is napping upstairs. Uncle Angus is a stuffed Scottie. They finally get the postman to leave. The letter is from the library at her university. A book she wants is not available. Roger says he could help her look for “him.” She knows how to research. She used to help Frank. Roger insists she needs tea even though she hates it. She also really hates whisky too. He doesn’t want to drink alone and wants her to join him. When she gets up to pour the hot water in the teapot, he tells her she has a right to know who Jamie Fraser was. He’s her father. To Brianna Frank Randall, daddy was her father (p332, Nook). Roger knows what it means to miss a father. He needed to make him real when he was young. He made stories up about him. The Reverend understood and started to tell him the real stories of his dad, Jerry MacKenzie. He told the little things. He made him real for Roger. Even though it made Roger miss him more, he was glad to know.

She lets him splash some whisky in her teacup. She asks after his mother (p333, Nook). Roger’s correct, everybody needs a history. She drank and held her cup out for more. She’s afraid to look for Jamie and her mother (p334, Nook). She wants to find her and them but worries Claire didn’t make it or died along the way, or any number of things. More whisky is poured into her cup. She felt guilty when she saw Frank’s signature in the books. Is it wrong for her to look? He thinks she should look, and he’ll help her, but she needs a nap just now. She makes it upstairs only to vomit in the bathroom. The whisky was a bit much. She sleeps. Roger works, checks on the soup, and cleans up from their tea. (36:20)

Roger is sad his home will be gone for good. That’s why it’s taken him so long to go through the Reverend’s things. The reason it’s getting done now is that Fiona plans to move in. He unpins the paper from the cork board. It’s his genealogy written in the Reverend’s hand. The generations of MacKenzies listed. He thinks he may change his name back to MacKenzie. The Reverend hadn’t known the story of the woman Roger gets his green eyes from. She’s nowhere on the list. William Buccleigh MacKenzie, the changeling, given to foster parents to raise is on the list. He was the illegitimate child of Dougal MacKenzie, Clan War Chief, and the witch, Geillis Duncan (Gillian Edgars, Geillis Abernathy). Geillis wasn’t a witch, but a dangerous woman. Did he inherit the ability to travel through the stones? He knows the fine line between curiosity and ambivalence in searching for those in the past. That’s the last box. The room now stands empty. (37:45)

He stops at the stairs. Brianna had bathed. She was in the hall in nothing but a towel. She didn’t see him. His heart thuds and hands sweat (p338, Nook). He’s mesmerized by her. She looks him straight in the eyes. He knows what she’ll feel like, what she’ll smell like. The towel falls from her hair (p38, Nook). They kiss. She presses against him; he can imagine how her breasts look by how they feel about him. Becoming off balance, they tumble to the floor (p339, Nook). He yearns to touch her. She urges him on, but he doesn’t want to bed her like this. He wants it to be good their first time. Better than this. The burning soup is the distraction they need. He runs to get it; she goes to get dressed.

In the kitchen, his guilt rises. He shouldn’t have acted how he did toward her. He’s concerned she’ll think he took advantage. She had wanted him to (p340, Nook). The soup is ruined. They’ll eat in a pub before church services; then she’ll say yes. When they come back to the manse, love will be a sacrament (p340, Nook). Roger is a traditionalist, a romantic, he’s a good man. He’s quite like Jamie. We haven’t seen his strength and grit yet, but I have no doubt we will. (43:15)

Jamie has made his decision. Claire is on board though concerned. Roger is hopefully in love with Brianna. She seems to share his feeling, but we don’t see her internal dialogue, only his. We cannot be sure of what is going on inside her head and heart. She’s torn about looking into the past. What if she finds her mother and its bad news? What about her love and devotion to Frank? What is Roger planning after the evening mass?

What’s Coming up? Chapter 18 and 19 Drums of Autumn (DOA).

How can you participate? Send your comments to or call the listener line at 719-425-9444 by Friday of each week. If you’re reading ahead, you can leave comments for any part of the book too. Join the weekly Twitter chat Wednesday nights at 6 pm PT/9pm ET using the hashtag #ADoO. Comments or messages may be included in the podcast or a written post.

The Outlander book series is written by Diana Gabaldon. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook

All images are Wiki Commons. Click on picture for attribution link. Featured Image.

Follow A Dram of Outlander

Thank you for sharing posts, joining the discussions, and following this website or pages listed below!

Facebook,  InstagramTwitterTumblrGoogle+

To financially support the podcast, go to my Patreon page.

Call 719-425-9444 listener/reader line to leave your comments.

Listen to this podcast!

In the Backcountry Ep 123

Drums of Autumn

Chapters 14-15

Week 9

“Into the Backcountry”

Listen to the podcast!


With much haste, they leave Cross Creek by night to take Pollyanne to safety. They ride until dawn. Claire learns a new method of tick removal. They come across a spooky abandoned Indian village. They make camp near a stream. Myers tells the story of the Tuscarora. Claire hopes Pollyanne will be accepted by the Indians. Myers and Young Ian part with Jamie and Claire to take Pollyanne north. Jamie and Claire head southwest to survey the offered lands. Jamie fights and kills a bear. Claire tends his wounds. They become acquainted with three native hunters.

Inside the Chapters:

Part Five: Strawberry Fields Forever

Chapter 14: Flee from Wrath to Come

August 1767

Pollyanne had been hiding in a tobacco shed on the edge of Farquard Campbell’s property. Claire notes the lavender sky and the ghostly nature of the woman as she exited the building cloaked. Pollyanne is frightened of the horse and refuses to take the reins. Claire offers to have the woman ride with her, so she feels safer. It’s difficult to swap her to Claire’s horse, but eventually, they get it done. The poor woman is terrified. She clings tightly to Claire. The woman shivers behind Claire as if chilled. Poor sweetie. She’s new from Africa, and now she’s to be given to the Indians (Native Americans) for her safety. The appearance of Rollo adds another dimension of fear for Pollyanne and Claire’s horse (p277, Nook). Claire and Jamie try to determine if she understands where they are taking her. Not knowing what tongue she might understand, Jamie reaches out, squeezes her foot, and says freedom. This she understands and sighs in relief. (1:20)

Myer’s leads them in an unspoken urgency. Pollyanne is becoming accustomed to the riding and feeling less afraid. She even dozes, leaning onto Claire’s shoulder occasionally. Claire is tired and being lulled by the sound of the horse’s hooves and the forest surrounding them (p279, Nook).

At dawn, they stopped to rest during the light and heat of the day. They woke covered in ticks. Though Claire, as usual, doesn’t attract the appetite of the 18th-century bugs. She did, however, carefully checks Jamie and everyone else after they slept. Pollyanne has a different method of tick removal (p280, Nook). The seeds she chewed are called paw-paw and are toxic if swallowed. Pollyanne’s stature reminds Claire of African fertility images. After dinner, Pollyanne is willing to ride on her own. She is more comfortable with Claire and excitedly communicates the best she can. Claire understands her better than she understands Claire. Apparently, Claire isn’t so skilled with body language communication.

They enter a clearing with grassy mounds. Pollyanne is disquieted. She believes this place is evil. Myers explains this place likely used to be a Tuscarora village. He isn’t sure what happened. Illness or warfare could be the culprit. They rode on. They are climbing higher into the mountains. The landscape changes to chestnut trees, oak, hickory, dogwood, persimmon, chinkapin, and poplar. The air is lighter and fresher. They have left the smothering heat and humidity of the lowlands. Claire is connecting with nature with every joyous breath.

On the sixth day, they are deep into the mountains when they come across a large waterfall. Young Ian is surprised to hear Myers say it’s not the biggest one he’s ever seen. They camped near a stream hoping for a dinner of fresh trout. Pollyanne brings a bucket of water to make a batch of corn dodgers. They are delicious when fresh and edible for a few days though they lose flavor.

Pollyanne is not her normal exuberant self. This is the last night they are all together. Myers will take her into the Indian territory the next day. Maybe she is worried about her uncertain future. Pollyanne makes the batter; Claire tends the fire, Myers goes to smoke a pipe, while Jamie and Young Ian continue fishing. Claire wonders what type of place Pollyanne is from and what things could be going through her mind. It’s a great unknown.

Rollo joins them by the fire. He noses both Claire and Pollyanne. Pollyanne is not wanting his attention, turns and spit in his eye (p285, Nook). The corn dodgers are cooking, filling the area with comforting smells. The fire seems a place of refuge in this wild place. She wonders if the fire had held back jungle darkness protecting Pollyanne and her people from leopards. Was it comfort in her land or just an illusion of safety? It had to be an illusion since she was taken and brought to the Colonies. Claire dared not ask.

The fishing is very good. Jamie and Young Ian are ecstatic for their catches (p285, Nook). The mere mention of Indians by Myers has Young Ian asking questions. The conversation turns to the abandoned village they’d passed through earlier. Myers explains about the Tuscarora War from forty years earlier. The result was a devastation to the Tuscarora nation with only seven villages left.  The Mohawk had adopted the Tuscarora, or they would have been completely wiped out. This helped the Tuscarora because they were allowed entrance into the Iroquois League. Jamie wants to know why the fierce Mohawk would want to adopt an ailing tribe (p287, Nook). Myers explains further how the Indians cannot hold their drink. Even the first drop is too much for them. Also, their numbers need replacing, so with their similar languages, the Mohawk took in the Tuscarora. These are the people Myers means to have Pollyanne adopted to as their own.

Claire asks if the Tuscarora have seen a black woman before. He thinks there are many who’ve never seen a white person before. He thinks they will like her just fine (p289, Nook). Claire and Jamie aren’t sure if this exchange would be a good thing or not. They have eye conversation about it. Jamie speaks up and puts a hand on Myers (p289, Nook). Young Ian jumps in and says he’s going with Mr. Myers to the Indian village. He told him. He didn’t ask for permission. The clever boy knows Jamie can’t say it’s too dangerous or why are they taking a woman and leaving her there?

The mating ritual is in full swing between Myers and Pollyanne. Without words, she blatantly invites him to bed with her. As they all bed down for the night, Claire wonders if she would do differently? If she was dependent upon a man to get her to safety, would she not do anything to ensure he protected her? When a snapping sound alarms Jamie to take his hand from under Claire’s shirt, then replace it with a squeeze of her breast knowing there’s no danger, no difference at all. Her future isn’t certain either, and she depended upon Jamie, a man bound to her in part by a desire for her body. She describes the cool night, the wind, and the sky. Ultimately, there were differences between her dependency on Jamie and Pollyanne being with Myers. She and Jamie were bonded beyond the flesh, and above all simply for the fact that she had chosen to be there.

Chapter 15: Noble Savages

After making plans to meet in ten days’ time, Jamie and Claire turned southwest, while Myers, Young Ian, and Pollyanne turned to the north. Claire takes in the vastness of this place. Beautiful, rich, and wild. Claire said nothing to Jamie about her worries about anyone being able to live in such a place. She simply followed along behind him. When something new is going to happen, her thoughts are often filled with all the what ifs, the things she’s scared of before she comes to a sense of okay. She must allow the chaos and worry to make itself known before settling into the certainty of a decision.

They make camp near a stream. It’s twilight. The fireflies are out. Jamie loves this time of day. It’s when he would leave the cave after Culloden (p292, Nook).  Claire remembers Father Anselm from the Abbey. He always said there was a time of day when time seemed to stop. He thought it could be the hour one was born. Jamie thinks the Father is right (p292, Nook). Claire doesn’t know the hour of her birth. It wasn’t written on her birth certificate. She knows when Brianna was born though, 3:03 a.m. Jamie is surprised to learn Claire was awake for the birth because she had told him of twilight sleep (p293, Nook). After hearing this, Jamie explains all the ways he’s almost died; he’d be okay dying in his sleep, in bed next to her when he was very old.

Jamie tended to the fire while Claire went fishing. It was dark when she returned with the gutted fish. She asks Jamie what he thinks it’s like to die (p294, Nook). Jamie set to cook the fish. Claire thinks about the hours she has sat where time stops. It’s peaceful without a name. If death lies there, she’d be okay with it. Her eyes were closed; she feels Jamie brush her shoulder. Then she hears Jamie eight feet away exclaim from cutting himself (p295, Nook). It is a large black bear. Jamie was brawling the bear. It is quite a fight. Jamie is holding his own. Jamie tells Claire to run. She must do something. She finds the fish that had been flung into the clearing. She thought she was hitting the bear on the nose with it. The bear notices Claire, and it goes after her with Jamie clinging to its neck with a death grip. Claire moves fast. She heard growling and Gaelic screeches among the rolling mass.  She was yelling for Jamie. She smells blood in the air. Jamie finally crawls into the clearing (p297, Nook). Yes, she had hit Jamie in the head with the fish, not the bear. Claire assesses for injury. There’s nothing broken, but he has terrible bruising. Claire goes to calm the horses. When she returns, Jamie has the fire rekindled. He does have scratches on his back from the bear claws.  As she looks at his back, they discuss why a black bear would attack. Usually, provocation caused them to do so. Claire peels his shredded shirt away to see four gouges (p299, Nook). She needs to cleanse the wounds. She remembers seeing arrowhead by the stream. She gives him a bottle of ale, he assures her he’ll be fine, and goes to get the medicinal plant.

The stream is cold. As she collected the plant, frogs sang around her, it felt so peaceful, until the stress of what just happened hit Claire. She shook so violently she needed to sit down. Death could come anytime. The thought of losing Jamie in a blink of an eye terrified her. She splashes cold water on her face and heads back to him. She can fight any infection that might occur. His care is in her hands now. As she returns to him, he’s sitting bolt upright (p300, Nook). So, they were correct; the bear had been provoked. The three Indians sized up Jamie and Claire, while they did the same. The men didn’t speak French or English. They rely on gestures and body language. One of the young men mimics a bear. Jamie points to where it lies. Jamie understands they are hunters and have no ill intention. Then he thinks he’s going to faint. Claire won’t let him. The men drag the bear over near the fire. The men are impressed that Jamie killed the near with his bare hands and the dirk. One of them decides he can treat Jamie’s wounds (p302, Nook). Jamie is pale and barely holding to consciousness. He asks for a whisky. This is risky knowing how alcohol is dangerous for Indians to drink. If he didn’t offer to share it, they would just take it. The older man appreciated the bouquet of the whisky. He doesn’t drink from it though; he has another purpose in mind first (p303, Nook). The man then handed the pipe to Jamie. When it was Claire’s turn, she inhaled instead of only allowing the smoke to enter her mouth.

One of the men comes up to Claire to ensure she’s a woman. To her surprise, he reaches out and grabs her breast. He gestures if she and Jamie are together. Jamie says she’s his. They were going to skin the bear, but Jamie claims the right to do so. Before he begins, he says the gralloch prayer. The men were impressed by his praying over the bear. It’s hard work skinning an animal. Jamie offered his knife to one of the men. This meant he is offering part of the meat as well. Claire wants to know what the older man did with the whisky (p306, Nook). Claire forgets how formidable Jamie is and what he must look like to others. She can see the air of savagery in him. It’s not just the English who think Highlanders are barbarians it seems. These men understood quickly he was a fellow hunter and a civilized man.

Jamie was gesturing and acting out the bear attack. He included Claire hitting him in the head with a fish mid-fight. They eat dinner together under the watchful dead eyes of the bear head. They were sharing stories. They exchange names. Claire’s name came out “Klah” which they found exceedingly funny. These men are Tuscarora. One is named Nacognaweto. Jamie asks the names of the items surrounding them. He is quickly picking up their language.

Claire is too tired to stay awake for any more of the conversation. Jamie is well enough. She curls up by his feet under the watched by the dead bear eyes, and she sleeps.

What an adventurous week they’ve had. They take Pollyanne from the near grip of the law to the backcountry. While Young Ian and Myers took her to the Indians, Jamie and Claire headed toward the land the Governor offered him. The bear attack scared the daylights out of them both. This land is wild and dangerous. Death could easily come at any time. Do you suppose people valued the moments more than knowing there were so many ways death could come? I think we believe death is far away in our westernized lives. There is a sense of delayed mortality. We’re always shocked when death or major illness occurs. It’s an illusion of safety just like Pollyanne had in her African village. It’s a good reminder to make time for the truly important things in life. I am always captured by how Jamie and Claire talk about things. Their conversations are meaningful yet seem easy. They’ve fallen back into their voiceless and verbal communication with barely a re-learning curve. I do think the Outlander series is a marriage manual.

What’s Coming up? Chapter 16 and 17 Drums of Autumn (DOA).

How can you participate? Send your comments to or call the listener line at 719-425-9444 by Friday of each week. If you’re reading ahead, you can leave comments for any part of the book too. Join the weekly Twitter chat Wednesday nights at 6 pm PT/9pm ET using the hashtag #ADoO. Comments or messages may be included in the podcast or a written post.

The Outlander book series is written by Diana Gabaldon. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook

All images are Wiki Commons. Featured image – By Thomson200 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Follow A Dram of Outlander

Thank you for sharing posts, joining the discussions, and following this website or pages listed below!

Facebook,  InstagramTwitterTumblrGoogle+

To financially support the podcast, go to my Patreon page.

Call 719-425-9444 listener/reader line to leave your comments.

Listen to this podcast!

An Examination of Conscience Ep 122

Drums of Autumn

Chapter 13

Week 8

“An Examination of Conscience”

Listen to Podcast!

Summary: Jamie and Claire go for a stroll. Jamie speaks frog somewhat fluently. Claire wants to know what the hell is going on. Jamie shares Jocasta’s big plan. They take a boat ride onto the river. Claire can’t be Jamie’s conscience. The overseer is dead. They arrive at the sawmill and discover a dying woman. Jamie and an old for cross paths. They plan to take a woman to safety.

Inside the Chapter:

Chapter 13 – An Examination of Conscience

Claire and Jamie are out for a stroll. A frog joins them on the path. Apparently, Jamie speaks frog, though not fluently. They were lost in their thoughts as they continued to walk. As they sit down near the dock, Claire wants to know what’s going on (p235, Nook). It is easy for her to envision how it would have played out if not for John Quincy Myers providing the incredible distraction. Claire thinks the plan is thoroughly MacKenzie like in all ways, “audacious, dramatic, and taking no account of the wishes of the persons involved.” If Jocasta would’ve been able to make her offer in such a public way, it would’ve been very difficult for Jamie to turn his Aunt down. Ulysses is not so happy that Jocasta plans to have Jamie take over the running of the estate. Since Hector died, he is Jocasta’s eyes, ears, and the one who oversees all the accounts. He’s honest and faithful, but likely doesn’t want to lose his position to a stranger. At first, Claire assumes Jamie will turn down the offer, but then she realizes he might say yes. She equates the scents of ripening apples in the air to the temptation with a worm hidden below the shiny surface. I love how Claire draws from the natural world to make her assessments and conclusions. The temptation is for Jamie to be restored to the head of a family, to have something to care for, and people to be responsible to. Claire knows caring for his men in prison is what kept him alive and enduring. Could he own people? As they walk Claire remarks on the plant life. It’s fragrant and abundant. She calls River Run, “a garden of earthly delight.”  She struggles with the reality if Jamie takes over as the heir to River Run, they will own slaves (5:00). She thinks of Joe Abernathy, her friend and the person she’d left Brianna’s care. For Claire, Jamie is her temptation. Could she not stand by him if he said yes to Jocasta even if that means owning slaves? If not this offer, then Governor Tryon’s to go to the back county might be chosen. Jamie must do something productive. She feels the pull of two planes of time p238, Nook). She worries he will die when he returns to Scotland. Before they go for a moonlit boat ride, he answers her unspoken questions with an “I don’t know.”

Jamie rows the boat, and they make their way onto the river. Neither are speaking. Jamie breaks the silence by asking Claire if she means to have nothing to say (p239, Nook). Claire understands what he means. Could she live every day, maybe for years, or forever owning slaves? If Jamie owned the slaves, so did she. She wouldn’t be a guest as she is now. She couldn’t pretend otherwise. I couldn’t live with it. I wouldn’t be able to stay permanently in that scenario. Jamie discloses even after Jocasta dies he may not be able to free the slaves. The Assembly must agree to it. Claire is incredulous hearing it. Jamie explains further (p240, Nook). She realizes Jamie has thought about the possibility of being named an heir and saying yes to the offer. Claire hadn’t consciously thought about it. Jamie believes his Aunt would use him to do her bidding but give him little true authority. As he puts it, he’d “be no more than her cat’s paw.” Aunt Jocasta likes the power too much to give it up to Jamie. She needs a man to do her bidding, while she maintains the reins. She seems not to want another husband, yet Ulysses cannot do the work required because of his status. Jamie is the distinctly perfect option (9:45).

Claire knows she could not live as a slave owner, yet if he rejects the offer, she’ll be sending him to Scotland to find suitable men to fill the land the Governor is willing to give him. She cannot tell him what to do. Finally, he finds a place to stop for a bit (p241, Nook). Even though Claire tells Jamie he’s a good man; he finds himself concerned he’s a man like Stephen Bonnet. The only thing that separates the two is the sense of honor Jamie has. Jamie’s worried he has nothing to show for his 45 years of living (p243, Nook). The rub in all of this, is so many depend upon him, even Laoghaire (p243, Nook). I love how Claire uses humor and tenderness. Her emotions ran the gamut over the course of the past hour. She takes his hand in hers, leans into him and says, “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried. Be it Scottish hill or southern forest.” She’ll be there. She doesn’t need finery. She needs him alone. (13:35).

As they move along upriver, Claire listens to Jamie’s breathing and thinks. She knows Jamie also has the MacKenzie will; he can stand up to Jocasta. She has a twinge at remembering Dougal as Jamie’s dirk took his life. She also knows, Jamie had some key differences from Stephen Bonnet beyond honor: “kindness, courage, and a conscience.”

Jamie had taken them to the sawmill. Claire had never been by water. She thinks it’s an apt place for Jamie to battle his demons. Claire thinks it is spooky at night. Jamie doesn’t like it in the daytime either. He tells her the overseer, Byrnes is dead of lockjaw (tetanus). He died that afternoon. It’s not a nice way to die. Claire is upset Jamie saw the ailing man and didn’t take her. She says it wasn’t for him to decide for her to go or not. He was protecting her (p247, Nook).  She’s mightily angry. Jamie apologizes. He goes on to explain why and he knows she would’ve gone no matter what. People were talking about what happened at the mill. Had Claire killed the slave? Jamie trusts the actions Claire took (p249, Nook). Arriving at the sawmill, Jamie states he told Mrs. Byrnes, he would retrieve her husband’s items. Claire understands Jamie is using this opportunity to size up the whole of the property, the people, the life it would mean if he says yes to Jocasta (p.250, Nook). The area surrounding the mill near the slave huts have an utterly quiet stillness to it. Claire struggles to keep her good footing, but Jamie never falters.  Claire reflects in her mind the difference of Jamaica to here. There would have been some form of lament for the dead slave. As if to read her mind, Jamie says they are afraid. Claire and Jamie are afraid too. (19:30).

As they enter the mill, Claire thinks she can still smell the blood from the altercation. No, it is fresh blood she smells. Jamie covers himself with his plaid and silently moves. Claire thinks she’s going to hallucinate that terrible scene, then a groan is heard. She manages not to scream and bites her lip hard. This sounds immensely frightening. I don’t know if curiosity to know what’s going on would keep me from running outside. She is frightened. She wonders if it could be Jamie making the wretched sound. Finally, she can’t take another moment and calls to him. He answers beckoning for her to come. She enters the small room. It’s stifling, and the reek of blood is heavy. On the bed lies a woman slowly exsanguinating (bleeding to death). Claire goes into doctor mode. She talks to the woman and examines her to find the source of the bleeding. The woman is weak and tries to speak. The woman is dying (p.253, Nook). Jamie tells her God will forgive her and to go in peace. She died from a botched abortion. Who is the sergeant she wants to be told? They return to the scene the next morning with Farquard Campbell. In the light of day, it’s even more horrifying. The heat, still air, and buzzing flies create a disturbing and stomach-churning atmosphere. Claire is sure of the reason for death. She left the foot-long kitchen skewer where she’d found it between the woman’s legs. Farquard’s job is to decide whether the woman did it to herself or someone else helped her. Claire lies and says she believes the woman did it by herself because of the laws of the colony. The dead woman is not known by Farquard. Jamie intervenes sharing the woman spoke the word sergeant. Claire provides a distraction to more questions by Farquard. She needs air and is feeling faint. Jamie stays behind to attend to the removal of the body. (22:30).

Enter Phaedre to the scenario. She’s waiting near the wagon outside the mill. She tells Claire she smells and looks awful. The reason Jamie and Claire lied about no one else being involved in the abortion is revealed. Phaedre found out who the other party was. A slave named Pollyanne. She ran away during the night. Claire is left to wash and prepare the body. Jamie went to keep Farquard company. As Claire and Phaedre cleaned the body, her thought ran to the night before. She feared Pollyanne would be put to death if found for inadvertently killing the woman while trying to help her. Phaedre cautions that Pollyanne needs to be found quickly. She doesn’t know the woods and is only a year from Africa. Claire’s use of herbs lent ceremony and gravity to the cleansing and preparation for burial. There was no minister to give her rites. Might there be people to miss her? When they finished, Jamie placed her shrouded body in the wagon. They need to find the sergeant the woman spoke about.

Before they could go to the military warehouse, they had to get cleaned up, drop off Phaedre, check in on John Quincy Myers, and fill in Jocasta with the news. It so happens, she finds Farquard and John in the morning room eating and sipping tea with Jocasta. It appears someone bathed John while he was unconscious. Jocasta invites Claire to sit and have some nourishment. Claire asks John how he is doing (p262, Nook). His comments amused everyone. Jocasta laughingly assures him she knew his mother and it’s unlikely his father was a bear. His mother liked a hairy man because it was a comfort on a cold night. The Native American women seem to like it too, but it might be the novelty since the Native American men are virtually hairless. Claire sipped the delicious tea, thankful to push away the events from her mind for a moment. Jamie returns clean and shaved. He needs Duncan, but Jocasta sent him and wee Ian to fetch a package for her. She expresses her favor of Duncan. Farquard leaves and Jamie asks after the package (p263, Nook). Farquard explained the basics of what happened and how the woman is a stranger. Jamie takes some offense to how Jocasta is acting as if the woman doesn’t matter (p264, Nook). Claire leaves with him. (26:45).

They arrive at the Crown’s warehouse. It’s guarded. Apparently, there are many items of value inside, but the liquor is the most valuable. They discuss the complexities of the situation and Jamie believes Farquard won’t cause any trouble for Jocasta. Jamie feels the need to see the woman properly buried. They both feel a responsibility to do it. Claire feels a stab of guilt over Brianna. She’s about the same age as this young woman with no family in her time. They find the sergeant in the taproom. He obviously knows Jamie by sight (p296, Nook). The sergeant is abjectly rude. Jamie tells him Mistress Cameron is his kinswoman. He introduces Claire as is wife. Jamie takes a moment to get a jeer in (p267, Nook). The sergeant gets angry and stomps out of the taproom. They follow saying it’s a matter of bringing him a corpse. The sergeant knows the woman. He wants to know what happened. She was a laundress named Lissa Garver. The sergeant is emotionally moved. Jamie explains she tried to slip a bairn. Murchison will not tell Jamie if she had a husband or family, he simply says she has someone, and he’s not to trouble himself further. He requires a statement from Jamie, so he and Claire go to the office. (30:30).

The office is empty when he and Claire arrive. He takes the opportunity to explain to Claire the nature of his history with Murchison (p269, Nook). Jamie tells how the twins were a great menace, monsters at Ardsmuir. Claire asks if both are here. The other died at Ardsmuir. Claire notices Jamie wore his kilt to speak to the sergeant. This is not a coincidence. It’s an act of purpose. He continues to explain that the other twin died at the hands of an inmate. Sergeant Murchison enters before Claire can ask Jamie if he killed the brother. Murchison demands Jamie write down his statement, date, and sign it. Jamie’s crippled hand makes it an arduous and painful task to write. He doesn’t write in front of others if he can help it. Claire offers to do it, but Jamie demands the clerk meet him at his aunt’s house later to take the statement. They leave before the sergeant can answer.

Duncan Innes and Young Ian found Pollyanne after searching for three days in the forest. She is safe at the moment. She refuses to ride a horse. The group of them, including Jocasta, discuss what must be done. Murchison had gone to the mill and declared it was murder. Claire doesn’t think it was murder or suicide. It was an accident. Jamie already had it arranged with Myers to take Pollyanne to the mountains and have her adopted into a tribe of Indians. They are to leave in three days’ time. (35:30).

Phaedre assisted Claire in getting provision together. Claire fashions herself proper riding clothes. Jamie is curious as to her undergarment (p274, Nook). As if the brassiere isn’t enough of a shock, she means to wear breeks when riding. He is aghast she wore trousers in her time (p274, Nook). This banter leads to Jamie being induced to ravishing Claire telling her to take the breeks off.

What’s Coming up? Chapter 14 and 15 Drums of Autumn (DOA).

How can you participate? Send your comments to or call the listener line at 719-425-9444 by Friday of each week. If you’re reading ahead, you can leave comments for any part of the book too. Join the weekly Twitter chat Wednesday nights at 6 pm PT/9pm ET using the hashtag #ADoO. Comments or messages may be included in the podcast or a written post.

The Outlander book series is written by Diana Gabaldon. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook

All images are Wiki Commons. Featured image.

Follow A Dram of Outlander

Thank you for sharing posts, joining the discussions, and following this website or pages listed below!

Facebook,  InstagramTwitterTumblrGoogle+

To financially support the podcast, go to my Patreon page.

Call 719-425-9444 listener/reader line to leave your comments.

Listen to this podcast!